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Cracker-Gate: Tweedy Biology Prof PZ Myers has Literally Killed Jesus Christ

Sunday, July 27 2008 @ 10:29 PM CDT

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by PZ Myers

Amid firestorm, the Great Desecration is done.

Christian Lunatics Issue Death Threats Over a Cracker

Unlike those nutty Muslims who are always taking offense over cartoons, these people have serious grievances.

Editor's note: University of Minnesota biologist PZ Myers posted this item on his blog last week. Since then, he's received deaths threats, been the target of a campaign to have him fired and was cited as a justification for increasing security at the upcoming GOP convention in Minneapolis.

There are days when it is agony to read the news, because people are so goddamned stupid. Petty and stupid. Hateful and stupid. Just plain stupid. And nothing makes them stupider than religion.

Here's a story that will destroy your hopes for a reasonable humanity.

Webster Cook says he smuggled a Eucharist, a small bread wafer that to Catholics symbolic of the Body of Christ after a priest blesses it, out of mass, didn't eat it as he was supposed to do, but instead walked with it.

This isn't the stupid part yet. He walked off with a cracker that was put in his mouth, and people in the church fought with him to get it back. It is just a cracker!

Catholics worldwide became furious.

Would you believe this isn't hyperbole? People around the world are actually extremely angry about this — Webster Cook has been sent death threats over his cracker. Those are just kooks, you might say, but here is the considered, measured response of the local diocese:

"We don't know 100% what Mr. Cooks motivation was," said Susan Fani a spokesperson with the local Catholic diocese. "However, if anything were to qualify as a hate crime, to us this seems like this might be it."

We just expect the University to take this seriously," she added "To send a message to not just Mr. Cook but the whole community that this kind of really complete sacrilege will not be tolerated."

Wait, what? Holding a cracker hostage is now a hate crime? The murder of Matthew Shephard was a hate crime. The murder of James Byrd Jr. was a hate crime. This is a goddamned cracker. Can you possibly diminish the abuse of real human beings any further?

Well, you could have a priest compare this event to a kidnapping.

"It is hurtful," said Father Migeul Gonzalez with the Diocese. "Imagine if they kidnapped somebody and you make a plea for that individual to please return that loved one to the family."

Gonzalez said the Diocese is willing to meet with Cook and help him understand the importance of the Eucharist in hopes of him returning it. The Diocese is dispatching a nun to UCF's campus to oversee the next mass, protect the Eucharist and in hopes Cook will return it.

I like the idea of sending a scary nun to guard the ceremony at the next mass. But even better…let's send Webster Cook to hell!

Gonzalez said intentionally abusing the Eucharist is classified as a mortal sin in the Catholic church, the most severe possible. If it's not returned, the community of faith will have to ask for forgiveness.

"We have to make acts of reparation," Gonzalez said. "The whole community is going to turn to prayer. We'll ask the Lord for pardon, forgiveness, peace, not only for the whole community affected by it, but also for [Cook], we offer prayers for him as well."

Get some perspective, man. IT'S A CRACKER.

And of course, Bill Donohue is outraged (I know, Donohue is going to die of apoplexy someday when a gnat violates his oatmeal, so this isn't saying much).

For a student to disrupt Mass by taking the Body of Christ hostage--regardless of the alleged nature of his grievance--is beyond hate speech. That is why the UCF administration needs to act swiftly and decisively in seeing that justice is done. All options should be on the table, including expulsion.

Oh, beyond hate speech. Where does this fit on the Shoah scale, Bill? It shouldn't even register, but here is Wild-Eyed Bill the Offended calling for the expulsion of a student…for not swallowing a cracker.

Would you believe that the mealy-mouthed president of the university, John Hitt, is avoiding defending his student is instead playing up the importance of the Catholic church to the university? Of course you would. That's what university presidents do. Bugger the students, keep the donors and the state reps happy.

Unfortunately, Webster Cook has now returned the cracker. Why?

Webster just wants all of this to go away. Especially now that he feels his life is in danger.

That's right. Crazy Christian fanatics right here in our own country have been threatening to kill a young man over a cracker. This is insane. These people are demented fuckwits. And Cook is not out of the fire yet — that Fox News story ends with an open incitement to cause him further misery.

University officials said, that as for right now, Webster Cook is not in trouble. If anyone or any group wants to file a formal complaint with the University through the student judicial system, they can. If that happens, Webster will go through a hearing either in front of an administrative panel or a panel of his peers.

Got that? If you don't like what Webster Cook did, all you have to do is complain to the university, and they will do the dirty work for you of making his college experience miserable. And don't assume the university would support Cook; the college is now having armed university police officers standing guard during mass.

I find this all utterly unbelievable. It's like Dark Age superstition and malice, all thriving with the endorsement of secular institutions here in 21st century America. It is a culture of deluded lunatics calling the shots and making human beings dance to their mythical bunkum.

So, what to do. I have an idea. Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers? There's no way I can personally get them — my local churches have stakes prepared for me, I'm sure — but if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I'll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won't be tempted to hold it hostage (no, not even if I have a choice between returning the Eucharist and watching Bill Donohue kick the pope in the balls, which would apparently be a more humane act than desecrating a goddamned cracker), but will instead treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web. I shall do so joyfully and with laughter in my heart. If you can smuggle some out from under the armed guards and grim nuns hovering over your local communion ceremony, just write to me and I'll send you my home address.

Just wait. Now there'll be a team of Jesuits assigned to rifle through my mail every day.


Scientist Under Fire From Religious Right Still Says a "Cracker is Nothing"

Crackergate continues.

A few days ago, over 120 reader comments appeared on a post titled "Christian Lunatics Issue Death Threats Over a Cracker". Yesterday, the Minnesota Independent ran an interview with the author of the post, PZ Myers (the unfortunate headline called Myers an "unrepentant heathen" -- an odd construct, no?). Here's a taste:

Once a Lutheran altar boy, University of Minnesota biology professor Morris P.Z. Myers has fallen from grace -- at least in the eyes of some Catholics and the conservative Catholic League. One of the more prominent atheist voices in America, Myers wrote a blog post on the furor sparked by a Florida college student who smuggled a communion wafer out of mass and, once found out, received threats of harm and death. Catholics believe the bread, once blessed by a priest, has been transformed into the substance of Christ's body and blood. Myers doesn't buy it. He wrote that if readers of his blog send him a consecrated host, "I'll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare."

I reached him this morning to discuss the controversy that has resulted in several thousand comments at his blog -- some calling him a "Jewboy," others announcing his need for prayer, and still others calling for his death.

Minnesota Independent: The incident with college student Webster Cook comes as religious passions everywhere are incredibly inflamed -- Shiites and Sunnis, Evangelicals and atheists, etc. Does this say anything about the state of religion?

PZ Myers: I think this is a symptom of the weakness of the religious in this country right now. Religion is actually fading a little bit. It's still strong,and it's still out there and there's still a vocal political realm, but I think people know that there are people actively challenging religion now.

I think there's also a growing discontent with what the religious have done in politics.

The Bush administration is a perfect example of political cronyism and political advocacy built largely on the support of the religious right, and look where it's gotten us. People are disillusioned. So [religious people are] worried. I think they've got reason to be worried. We're going to see an increasing weakness of the church. This is them lashing out. It's a disparate ploy to be relevant and to be important again... They're looking for somebody to take their ire out on.

MnIndy: I was raised Catholic, was an altar boy, and attended Catholic grade school and college. While I was taught to be reverent with Catholic symbols and artifacts, I also learned of a powerful god, totally unlike this fragile one that can be damaged by a non-believer's mishandling of a communion wafer.

Myers: It's actually kind of sad. I grew up in a church, although I'm, of course, no longer a member of a church, but it is kind of weird to see this going on right now. The messages I've been getting in my email have just been insane. People who say this cracker is literally and physically the body of their god and that I'm doing this great act of heresy and sacrilege and horror -- even though I didn't actually do anything to it -- is disturbing. It's like discovering there are witch doctors lurking in your community and they've been doing weird practices.


Cracker-Gate Continues: GOP Delegate Says Nerdy Biology Prof a Threat to Their Convention

Will the madness ever end?

Thomas Foley of Virginia is nuts. This is the delegate to the Republican National Convention who has called for increased security. Why? Because he has an irrational fear of us.

On Friday the Catholic League reported that Thomas E. Foley, a Virginia delegate to the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Minneapolis has asked that increased security be considered for the event in light of Myers' threat to acquire and desecrate the Eucharist.

"I just felt security at the Republican National Convention ought to look at him and his followers," Foley told CNA in a phone interview on Wednesday morning. He reported that he had not received an update about his request.

Voicing his concerns about Myers, Foley said: "What I think he has done, he's loaded a cyberpistol and he's cocked it and he's left it on the table. He may have set something in motion that no one can stop. It was irresponsible, a hell of a thing to do."

Foley explained that he thought Myers should not be able to incite such acts with "impunity," saying that he was especially disturbed by the comments posted on Myers' blog. He said it was "eye-opening" to read the people who supported Myers' action. Even at his age of 63, Foley said, he had never "personally encountered such bigotry."

He also objected to Myers' recent description of Catholic League President Bill Donohue as "braying," which Foley, a self-described Irish Catholic, claimed was "a great insult for the Irish."

Foley said he believes Myers was telling his readers to acquire a consecrated Host at Mass, which Foley thought would result in disruptions.

"What's he telling them to do? Consecrated Hosts are not just lying around," he said to CNA, noting that the only other possible way to secure a Host would be to accost a priest, nun, or layman taking the Sacrament to the sick. Even E-bay, Foley emphasized, has prevented the sale of consecrated Hosts.

Wait, what? I'm armed with a cyberpistol? Is that what we atheist brigands use to rob trucks trundling down the tubes of the internet?

I had no idea that "braying" was especially insulting to the Irish. I'm sure it's a word that is used with great frequency in reference to Bill Donohue, though. No ethnic slur was intended, since I was unaware of any association (and still am) — it's really just intended to highlight Donohue's personal attributes as an ass.

I'm baffled by the last paragraph, though. If the crackers aren't just lying around, how come people are having such an easy time getting them? The people who've sent them to me haven't mentioned having to disrupt anything. And if their availability is so limited, why is he calling for increased security at the RNC? Do Republicans get Christ Crackers on registration, or something?

This is precisely the kind of deranged hysteria we have to protest against, I'm afraid.


It is finished.

I wonder how many of our Catholic friends have heard of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215? This is the event where many of their important dogmas were codified, including the ideas of Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus, that the Eucharist was the sacrament that only properly ordained priests of the Catholic church could give, and that the Jews were a pariah people, who could hold no public office, had to pay a special Jew tax for their right to exist, and were required to wear special clothing to distinguish them from Christians. The yellow badge marking the Juden was not an invention of the Nazis, but a decree by faithful Catholics in the Middle Ages. That's an interesting juxtaposition, that a symbol of Christian exceptionalism was formalized at the same time that they formally decreed the Jews to be inferior, and a target of hatred.

That combination was useful, too. Declare something cheap, disposable, and common to be imbued with magic by the words of a priest, and the trivial becomes a powerful token to inflame the mob — why, all you have to do is declare a bit of bread to be the most powerful and desirable object in the world, and even if it isn't, you can pretend that the evil other is scheming to deprive the faithful of it. Now you could invent stories of Jews and witches taking the communion host to torture, to make Jesus suffer even more, and good Catholics would of course rise in horror to defend their salvation. None of the stories were true, of course — Jews and infidels see no power at all in those little crackers, and the idea that they were obsessing over obtaining a non-sacred, powerless, pointless relic is ludicrous — but heck, it's a cheap excuse to make accusations illustrated by cheesy woodcuts of hook-nosed Jews hammering nails into communion wafers and lurid tales of blood-spurting crackers and hosts that pulsed like and beating heart, and thereby providing a pretext to encourage massacres.

The first recorded accusation was made in 1243 at Berlitz, near Berlin. As a consequence all the Jews of Berlitz were burned on the spot, which was subsequently called Judenberg. Another famous case that took place in 1290, in Paris, was commemorated in the Church of the Rue des Billettes and in a local confraternity. In 1370 in Brussels, the charge of host desecration, long celebrated in a special fest and depicted in artistic relics in the Church of St. Gudule, led to the extermination of the Jews of the city. The case of 1337, at Deggendorf, still celebrated locally as "Deggendorf Gnad", led to a series of massacres across the region. In 1510, at Knoblauch, near Berlin, 38 Jews were executed and more expelled from Brandenburg. The alleged host desecration in 1410, at Segovia, was said to have brought about an earthquake, and as a result, the local synagogue was confiscated and leading Jews were executed; the event continues to be celebrated as a local feast of Corpus Christi. Similar accusations, resulting in extensive persecution of Jews, were brought forward in 1294, at Laa, Austria; 1298, at Röttingen, near Würzburg, and at Korneuburg, near Vienna; 1299, at Ratisbon; 1306, at St. Pölten; 1325, at Cracow; 1330, at Güstrow; 1338, at Pulkau; 1388, at Prague; 1399, at Posen; 1401, at Glogau; 1420, at Ems; 1453, at Breslau; 1478, at Passau; 1492, at Sternberg, in Mecklenburg-Schwerin; 1514, at Mittelberg, in Alsace; 1558, at Sochaczew, in Poland. The last Jew burned for stealing a host died in 1631, according to Jacques Basnage, quoting from Manasseh b. Israel. Casimir IV. of Poland (1447).

That is the true power of the cracker, this silly symbol of superstition. Fortunately, Catholicism has mellowed with age — the last time a Catholic nation rose up to slaughter its non-Christian citizenry was a whole 70 years ago, after all — but the sentiment still lingers. Catholicism has been actively poisoning the minds of its practitioners with the most amazing bullshit for years, and until recently, I had no idea that a significant number of people actually believed this nonsense, or that the hatred was still simmering there, waiting for an opportunity to rise up in misplaced defense of absurdity.

All of the regular readers have seen it — thousands of mindless comments by Catholics, demanding that no harm come to a cracker. My email is melting down with swarms of insults, threats, pleas, and promises of prayers because I threatened to violate one of their holy crackers. In my years of loud and often inflammatory blogging, it is the most impressive demonstration of mass lunacy I have ever seen.

Mark Sutton is representative of the majority of my email. No threats, at least, but instead he simply takes for granted an astonishing piece of insanity.

Professor Myers,

I was saddened to hear of your plans to harm our Lord Jesus Christ.

It obviously isn't the first time and it won't be the last.

I know you do not believe, but what if it truly is Jesus that you are attempting to hurt?

You are in my prayers.

You would not believe how many people are writing to me, insisting that these horrible little crackers (they look like flattened bits of styrofoam) are literally pieces of their god, and that this omnipotent being who created the universe can actually be seriously harmed by some third-rate liberal intellectual at a third-rate university (the diminution of my vast powers is also a common theme).

Jim Nicholson cranks up the crazy even more. Not many accused me of being a freemason — I've got lots that call me a Jew, which is illuminating given the history of this issue — and I cringe at the thought of a circumcised heart. But yeah, this kind of angry rant is fairly common, too.

You must be the devil himself as even he knows the power in the Holy Eucharist (don't you dare disparage the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by calling Him Who died for you a cracker!). You must be a freemason, or just a very sick man who needs healing and believe me, I will pray for your conversion. Pray you live to see that day so you can ask Him to forgive you and your uncircumcised heart. Just the mere thought of desecrating the Holy Eucharist is enough to get one into hell, but, maybe that is, for now, the horrible place you are aiming for. I dare you to read about Our Lady of Fatima and the accounts of hell as the three children saw, then, maybe you will change you sick mind. God forgive you. However, it was great that you got many people praying for your conversion since you showed the world how sick you are, and maybe God will convert your hard heart. Pity you. From a lay evangelist who prays for you and the rest of this sick world of secular humanists.

Another common theme has been the attempt to turn away the desecration of a Catholic symbol into the desecration of an Islamic symbol. Obviously, it's not desecration they find disagreeable — it's the idea that someone would offend their weird sectarian sensibilities. Here's one from Jack Isaacks that fits the mold.

Dear Professor Meyers,

If you REALLY want to do a courageous, revolutionary act, defecate publicly on a copy of the Quran.

Or do you have the cojones?

Christians won't attack you for desecrating a host, but will those wonderful cuddly peace-loving Muslims be as forbearing if you used their book for a toilet?

Well, how brave are you?

Yeah, right. Catholics won't attack me, but Muslims will. Never mind that the Catholic League demands that I be fired, thousands of Catholics write to me demanding I be kicked out of the university immediately, and that they send me death threats, both the explicit kind and the vaguely menacing kind. Let's not forget Webster Cook, who started this all by simply walking back to his seat with a cracker, and now faces censure and possible expulsion from his university. Oh, those Catholics sure are forbearing and tolerant.

And since I mentioned yesterday that I was taking my oldest son to the movies, these good Catholics have leapt to the opportunity. Since I'm not demonstrating any fear over their threats against me, well hey, let's try a new target! KJ Atkins of Bellarmine University thinks cowardly warnings against my family might be effective.

You fool, the vengeance for your sacrilege will not be . exhausted against you, but it will be carried out on your child. Wait and see.

Oh, I'm sorry, KJ. I'm only impressed by significant material concerns, and yours and other slanders against my family (I'm looking at you, Miki Tracy, the despicable person who thinks making up lies about my father might be persuasive) are not going to convince me of anything other than that religion breeds the most disgustingly vile haters in our country, and that Catholicism fits right in with the rest. I will note, however, that since Bill Donohue tried to get CAIR to join him in his crusade, I have gotten no email from outraged Muslims, over a span of time in which I've received thousands of Catholic hate mail messages.

If you want to see the deep danger of religion, you have to read this comment from Isaac.

As a Christian it is an insult for anyone to call my beliefs stupid shit. I have respected every religion and every idea for years.

Ah, what a beautiful illustration of the complete open mind — utterly undiscriminating, lacking any criteria for acceptance, simply blissfully and uncritically according every idea his full respect. Although, of course, it's also a lie: Isaac does not regard every idea as equally deserving, since he clearly considers the atheist idea that the sacraments of his faith are empty foolishness to be an outrage. Rather, what he loves is the idea that everyone else must respect his beliefs, no matter what they are, and that any disagreement is an insult. This is exactly the kind of uncritical, unskeptical, nonjudgmental idiocy all religions seek to promulgate, because they all know that if we tore off the blinders of tradition and artificiality and mindless etiquette, we'd see right through their lies. Respect every idea! Especially mine! And if you find the idea that this cracker is a god stupid, why, you must be disrespectful and no gentleman!

For even deeper inanity, let's not forget the Catholic blogs! We're talking some serious derangement there: look at Mark Shea's reaction.

I won't mince words. Myers is an evil man. And as evil men, particularly evil intellectuals, tend to be, he is also a mad man as are most of his acolytes and followers.

Myers and Co. are enmeshed in these lies because they have chosen evil. It is evil--archetypally evil--to desecrate the Eucharist. It's the sort of stuff archetypal bad guys in the movies do. It's completely unnecessary gratuitous evil.

To the Mark Shea's of the world, I would say…it's just a cracker.

I think if I were truly evil, I would have to demand that all of my acolytes be celibate, but would turn a blind eye to any sexual depravities they might commit. If I wanted to be an evil hypocrite, I'd drape myself in expensive jeweled robes and live in an ornate palace while telling all my followers that poverty is a virtue. If I wanted to commit world-class evil, I'd undermine efforts at family planning by the poor, especially if I could simultaneously enable the spread of deadly diseases. And if I wanted to be so evil that I would commit a devastating crime against the whole of the human race, twisting the minds of children into ignorance and hatred, I would be promoting the indoctrination of religion in children's upbringing, and fomenting hatred against anyone who dared speak out in defiance.

I'm sorry to say that I only aspire to be a teeny-tiny bit evil, and my target is a handful of virtually inedible crackers in my possession. It's not much, and all I can say in my defense is…it's a start. A very small start. I'm going to need lots and lots of people to rise up and follow suit, subjecting old, dishonest institutions of hardened dogma to our chief weapon of ridicule and deris…our two weapons of ridicule, derision and laughter…no, three weapons of ridicule, derision, laughter, and skeptici…oh, never mind. You know what I mean. Get to work.


OK, time for the anticlimax. I know some of you have proposed intricate plans for how to do horrible things to these crackers, but I repeat…it's just a cracker. I wasn't going to make any major investment of time, money, or effort in treating these dabs of unpleasantness as they deserve, because all they deserve is casual disposal. However, inspired by an old woodcut of Jews stabbing the host, I thought of a simple, quick thing to do: I pierced it with a rusty nail (I hope Jesus's tetanus shots are up to date). And then I simply threw it in the trash, followed by the classic, decorative items of trash cans everywhere, old coffeegrounds and a banana peel. My apologies to those who hoped for more, but the worst I can do is show my unconcerned contempt.

By the way, I didn't want to single out just the cracker, so I nailed it to a few ripped-out pages from the Qur'an and The God Delusion. They are just paper. Nothing must be held sacred. Question everything. God is not great, Jesus is not your lord, you are not disciples of any charismatic prophet. You are all human beings who must make your way through your life by thinking and learning, and you have the job of advancing humanity's knowledge by winnowing out the errors of past generations and finding deeper understanding of reality. You will not find wisdom in rituals and sacraments and dogma, which build only self-satisfied ignorance, but you can find truth by looking at your world with fresh eyes and a questioning mind.


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